Parents of suicide comfort each other - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Parents of suicide comfort each other

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April 4, 2003

Pavo - A South Georgia teen's suicide sparked her parents to reach out, worldwide. The internet support group has brought together parents from all over the world.

The hanging quilt goes to show, suicide is a worldwide issue. Lynne Olson says, "Suicide can destroy, it destroys friendships, relationships, families all sorts of things."

Olson traveled from New Zealand to Pavo, Georgia to meet NEW friends with a lot in common. She met them on the internet. She says, "I don't know where I would have been without them."

Olson joined Parents of Suicide after her 33-year-old son, Peter Ellwood, committed suicide. She says, "I couldn't believe it." Nine months later her other son, 37-year-old Tony Ellwood took his life too. Despite hardships, she's here in South Georgia comforting others.

Retreat organizer, Karyl Chastain Beal, explains, "We honor the memory of our children and it lifts us up so we can reflect their lives in a positive way." Beal started the group after her 18-year-old daughter Arlyn Beal died in 96. She says, "Basically out of the clear blue she drove off by herself, put a gun to her mouth and pulled the trigger. We ate lunch just before, pleasant as she could be, no argument."

Beal has stitched families together using the International Suicide Memorial Quilt. It has 120 squares of loved ones. She explains, "Each person wherever they lived made a square in memory of their son or daughter."

It's a healing project.  Beal says, "We become their voice, the voice of our children. Speaking out that this is a problem." These parents say the yearly retreat is a quiet way to celebrate the lives of their children.

Beal says depression is often the root of suicide and should not be taken lightly. Most of the time, family members do not know if their loved ones already have suicidal tendencies. Usually, they tell friends.

You can visit the website parentsofsuicide.com for more information.

posted at 6:09PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com